Emoni Bates shows promising future on Cavaliers ahead of rookie season

Emoni Bates, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Emoni Bates, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

With pick 49 in the 2023 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected former top prospect Emoni Bates from Eastern Michigan University.

For Cleveland, their late second-round selection of Bates was quickly contentious, as the young man’s history with basketball has had a fair share of missed opportunities and criticism over the past few years. Once Bates joined the Cavs, he opened up on his mindset going into the season. Bates said that joining the Cavaliers helped him rediscover his joy for basketball, something that had waned amidst the dramatics of his college career.

That enthusiasm has shown itself in Cleveland, as the young stud played a substantial role in the Cavaliers winning the franchise’s first Summer League championship.Over the course of Summer League, Bates progressively improved his overall skillset, adapting to the new environment and showcasing a welcomed surprise with his impressive basketball IQ and playmaking.

Additionally, Bates came to the Cavaliers with connections on the team. Both Donovan Mitchell and Bates share a trainer in Chris Brickley. Bates expressed gratitude in that, saying “when [Donovan Mitchell] gets here I know I’m going to learn a lot and just be under his wing.”

Since joining Cleveland, Bates has been a terrific personality with a mindset focused on growth and team-centric humility. All of these traits combined with the popularity surrounding his name has led to speculation on Bates’ role in his rookie season. Currently, Bates is on a two-way contract, meaning he will be able to split his time with the Cleveland Charge and Cavaliers, though his time with the Cavs is limited. The Cavs can only have their three two-way players (Bates, Craig Porter, Jr., and Isaiah Mobley) suit up for an accumulative 90 games in the regular season.

With a fifteenth roster spot available, the Cavaliers do have the ability to upgrade Bates to a full contract, though.

What plans do the Cavaliers have for Emoni Bates this season?

As a second-round pick, there is usually little interest in their rookie season responsibilities. For Bates, however, his 6-foot 9-inches frame and shooting ability makes his case more intriguing than most, given the Cavaliers’ need for tall wings and perimeter shooters.

In the team’s first preseason game against the Atlanta Hawks, Bates scored 10 points, including a last chance 3-point shot in the final seconds of the game. Bates plays with a faster pace than the Cavaliers showed last season, and he is fearless in his playstyle. These two factors are further elevating the hype around Bates.

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff had plenty to say about Bates recently in Chris Fedor’s recent article at Cleveland.com.

"“Emoni is a special talent. People shortchange how high his basketball IQ is as a playmaker. Everybody talks about his ability to score and create shots, but he sees the floor extremely well and he makes the right play most of the time. He has done a great job.”– J.B. Bickerstaff"

Bates has not only shown improvement in his playmaking and shot selection. Bickerstaff shared that Bates’ primary focus has been on improving on the defensive end this offseason, realizing the flaws in his game. Bates said “Really learning how to move my feet and use my length. Coach [Bickerstaff] has been teaching me hand placements and everything.” This summer, Bates is working to grow into an all-around player rather than a frantic scorer.

Clearly, Bates’ mindset is much more mature and driven than what was projected by scouts going into the NBA Draft. This sort of improvement creates a good problem for the Cavaliers to have. Bates may very well deserve a spot in the Cavaliers’ nightly rotation, but for the first time in years the Cavs may be too deep to find that spot for him. With Max Strus, Ty Jerome and Georges Niang joining the Cavaliers in free agency, Cleveland also has Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro and Dean Wade in front of Bates in the rotation.

With so many talented wings and forwards in Cleveland, Bates’ rookie season may be spent primarily in the G-League, but nothing is set in stone. On that topic, Bickerstaff said they are “still working that out,” but did mention he wanted Bates to spend a lot of time with the main roster with so many players who can teach and guide Bates.

As for Bates, he continued to show maturity in the matter, saying he’ll “leave all that up to Coach [Bickerstaff]” and that he does not want to get into all of it.

"“If I get an opportunity to get my name called, I get my name called. But for me, it’s all about getting better and helping these guys while we’re in here every day in practice.”– Emoni Bates"

There is a lot of room for Bates to continue his development, but that has not dissuaded him from doing so. After many setbacks, Emoni Bates has fulfilled his childhood dream to join the ranks of the NBA. In doing so, he found himself on one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, and showing potential to earn real minutes already on such a good team should be nothing but inspiration for Bates to continue his hard work.

dark. Next. Why Evan Mobley is studying Bam Adebayo film this summer

Although Bates’ path to the NBA has been rocky, there is no denying that he seems ready for the task. As the season approaches, Emoni Bates will have plenty of opportunities to prove that taking the chance on him was the right choice for the Cavaliers.